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Cricket’s Cardio

            When Cricket was a puppy, I tried to teach her how to use the treadmill, and she managed to stay on for two minutes at the lowest speed. But the next time she changed her mind. She scratched at the treadmill with her paw, and then rested her head on the side and made puppy dog eyes at me while I walked by myself.

My treadmill (temporarily usurped by Panda)

My treadmill (temporarily usurped by Panda)

Cricket has a lot of nervous energy to work through every day and when we don’t get her out walking enough, or exercising enough, she uses it up by barking and by attacking her dog bed and racing around the apartment and generally being a menace.

            When the weather is good, I can push myself to take the dogs for a long walk once a day, but in the heat, it’s impossible. So Cricket has taken to bringing me her tug toy when she’s getting antsy.

"Nu? It's time to play tug."

            She loves her tug toy. She holds on with her teeth and I lift her in the air and she dangles, and growls, over and over and over again. Once my shoulders are too tired for dangling, we move on to the floor exercises. First we do the back and forths, and then we do side to sides, and then we do circles in one direction and then the other. If I can get her to let go at all, I will throw the tug toy for her, but she is much better at catching the toy than I am at throwing it, so she finds this frustrating.

Cricket is very strong, especially in the teeth.

Cricket is very strong, especially in the teeth.

            Butterfly cannot play tug, maybe because her teeth aren’t strong enough, or maybe it’s just not a game she understands, but she wants to play too. So while I am pulling and pushing Cricket’s tug toy with one hand, I am scratching Butterfly’s head with the other, and getting licked to death.

Butterfly really wants to play.

Butterfly really wants to play.

"Scratchies!"

“Scratchies!”

            When we can’t find the tug toy (because Cricket likes to hide things), I get out the chicken treats and we go through the commands Cricket remembers from training class. We start slow and then speed up until it feels like an old time Jane Fonda workout. Up! Down! Sit! Turn! Down! Sit! Up! Turn! Until she’s tired, or she’s finished three chicken treats, whichever comes first.

Cricket sit.

Cricket sit.

Cricket up. (By the way, please ignore the tomato sauce residue on her face in these pictures. Thank you.)

Cricket up. (By the way, please ignore the tomato sauce residue on her face in these pictures. Thank you.)

Butterfly has been learning the basic steps to this routine, but Cricket is not happy with having to slow down while her sister learns the steps.

            (“Turn” is code for a pirouette on her back feet and it is cricket’s favorite move. Butterfly can manage a quarter turn so far, and she is very proud of herself.)

            The problem with Cricket’s workouts is that they are completely dependent on my participation. She can’t put in a DVD and do a workout on her own. She’s not a self starter. If I put her out in the yard on a long lead, she will sit in the shade and chew sticks.

            Sometimes, if I’ve really worn her out, she’ll be calm enough to do her old stretch routine, the one we came up with together after her first knee surgery many years ago. Of course there are leg stretches, for her quads and hamstrings, and then some massage at the hips and waist, because she does a lot of jumping and twisting. And then I rotate her ears and massage her neck and jaw, because barking builds a lot of tension. But her favorite stretch is when she stands on her back feet and I hold her arms up just a little above her shoulders. She breathes deeply and almost sighs with relief.

Cricket resting, for a moment.

Cricket resting, for a moment.

And maybe, if I’m lucky, she’ll wait half an hour before she brings me the tug toy again.

"Again?"

“Again?”

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

27 responses »

  1. Seems that Cricket is the same energizer bunny like me :o) What a cool post, I always said “yes” while reading :o)

    Reply
  2. Sweet photos too, Rachel.

    Reply
  3. Your girls highly energetic!! Tug toy also a popular one at our house, too!

    Reply
    • I think Cricket read the blog this morning, because she has been even more insistent on bringing me her tug toy. I’ve made a little progress in getting Butterfly interested in the other end of the tug toy, but she’s only gone so far as to lick it.

      Reply
  4. Heidi’s BFF at the park is a Welsh Corgi. Her mama has taught her to walk on a treadmill.

    Reply
  5. Oh how I wish I had a treadmill for my dogs… We looked into it and it cost 3 times as much as a human one… buuuu… need to earn more…

    Reply
  6. I can completely relate to the tug of war play. Wifi is so strong that we can pull her up by her teeth too. But most of the time both dogs try to get to the same rope, one on either end! And that last picture you posted of the rope is the exact same rope we have. Hahaha.

    Wonderful post! Glad to see the girls getting some exercise! It really seems like Butterfly is really blossoming!

    THanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Butterfly’s favorite thing right now is galloping and she is building up her jumping muscles too, but those teeth are never gonna be up at Cricket’s level. Cricket is uninterested in having a tug toy for a dog her size, she prefers the big dog size.

      Reply
  7. I think we live in a golden age for dogs–light years beyond the times when dogs were left chained outside, lonely and bored. Our two are such an integral part of our family, and Cricket is so lucky to have you!

    Reply
  8. I always look forward to your posts. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Our family dog, Duke loved his tug toys too. My brothers and I used to pick him up by his teeth (my brothers, anyway, since Duke weighed 45 lbs. As a result, Dukie Dog had crooked lower teeth! How are Cricket’s teeth?

    Reply
  10. Reading your blog is a joy, especially since I have two dogs of similar size and somewhat similar temperament. I’m always so glad to know that I’m not the only one who indulges them in their every whim. ; )

    Reply
  11. Dogs are like children, they never tire of the things that amuse them or that they find fun. They have an unending capacity for play ( chicken treats are a bonus) Oh, and I am a pushover particularly where the Little Man is concerned :o)

    Reply
  12. I’m 11 and there’s no way no how I’m doing this stuff.

    Reply
  13. Haha looks like cricket has a beard in the “Cricket sit” photo.

    Reply

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